Mike Leake
Mike Leake
32-Year-Old PitcherSP
Arizona Diamondbacks
Out
Injury Opt Out
Est. Return 2/1/2021
2020 Fantasy Outlook
If you are in hot pursuit of double-digit wins and mediocre-to-bad ratios, Leake is your man. He has won 10 or more games in six of the past seven seasons, but the ratios have been anywhere from average to terrible. He misses as many starts as he does bats with his stuff, so you have to take the good with the bad. He will get you the 30 starts, but the K-BB% borders on unacceptable for a starting pitcher. It is not the fault of walks as he is stingy with those, but it's the 15% strikeout rate that is tough to roster in a mixed-league format. Leake's 2020 season should be more of the same: 10 wins, middling ratios and he will not eclipse 100 strikeouts until around Labor Day weekend. One would assume the move to the National League would help his strikeouts, but his low strikeout rate got even worse last year after he was traded from Seattle to Arizona. Read Past Outlooks
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$Signed a five-year, $80 million contract with the Cardinals in December of 2015. Traded to the Mariners in August of 2017. Traded to the Diamondbacks in July of 2019. Contract includes mutual $18 million option ($5 million buyout) for 2021.
First player to opt out of 2020
PArizona Diamondbacks
June 29, 2020
Leake will opt out of participating in the 2020 season, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
He was included on the initial version of the Diamondbacks' 60-man roster and would have been fighting for a rotation spot in July. While Leake is the first known player to opt out of playing this year, this shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as Leake has made just shy of $95 million in his career and there are obviously health risks involved with playing during a pandemic. Alex Young now appears to be Arizona's sixth starter in case one of the top five guys gets injured. Leake says he looks forward to playing in 2021. Arizona will either pay him $18 million next season for the final year of his contract or buy him out for $5 million.
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Pitching Stats
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2020
2019
2018
2017
2020 MLB Game Log
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2019 MLB Game Log
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2018 MLB Game Log
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2017 MLB Game Log
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2018
 
 
-6%
BAA vs RHP
2020
No Stats
2019
 
 
-7%
BAA vs RHP
2018
 
 
-5%
BAA vs RHP
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2018vs Left .292 811 114 32 223 48 5 25
Since 2018vs Right .274 808 132 29 211 41 3 39
2020vs Left 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2020vs Right 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2019vs Left .296 456 73 20 126 29 2 19
2019vs Right .275 379 54 7 101 16 1 22
2018vs Left .288 355 41 12 97 19 3 6
2018vs Right .274 429 78 22 110 25 2 17
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2018
 
 
-21%
ERA at Home
2020
No Stats
2019
 
 
-42%
ERA at Home
2018
 
 
-8%
ERA on Road
ERA WHIP IP W L SV K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Since 2018Home 3.84 1.26 197.0 13 9 0 5.8 1.2 1.1
Since 2018Away 4.85 1.32 185.2 9 12 0 5.8 1.6 1.9
2020Home 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2020Away 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2019Home 3.27 1.20 110.0 9 4 0 5.7 1.0 1.2
2019Away 5.59 1.40 87.0 3 7 0 5.9 1.6 2.7
2018Home 4.55 1.34 87.0 4 5 0 5.9 1.6 1.0
2018Away 4.20 1.26 98.2 6 5 0 5.7 1.7 1.2
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Defensive Stats
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
Leake started at least 30 games for the seventh straight season, surpassing 185 innings for the fifth time in that span. Leake generally defines a league-average pitcher, at least in terms of ratios as his career 16.1 K% is well below the norm. He gets by with pinpoint control, as evidenced by a career 5.5 BB%. As a groundball pitcher, he keeps the ball in the yard, allowing 1.09 HR/9, an acceptable mark by today's standards. Leake features an 89-mph sinker and mixes in a cutter and change, with the occasional slider and curve. Streaming for home games wasn't an effective ploy in 2018 as he didn't take advantage of Safeco Field's pitcher-friendly dimensions, posting better numbers in road affairs. That was likely a sample-size anomaly, and durability and reliability are important, but Leake's pedestrian punchouts are a detriment in mixed-league play.
It's cliche, but Leake is better for the real thing than fantasy. Consider this: since 2011, he's one of only five pitchers to throw at least 165 innings each season but has recorded an ERA below 3.40 only once with just one season punching out more than 160 hitters. In 2017, he pitched for his fourth organization as the Cardinals dealt the righty to the Mariners in late August. Leake excelled in the American League down the stretch, recording a 2.53 ERA with 27 whiffs to just two walks in 32 innings. Safeco Field and Busch Stadium are comparable pitching parks so the inevitable regression won't be too damaging, but even in today's increased run-scoring landscape, Leake's career 16 percent strikeout rate is a detriment. That said, Leake's reliability and durability is worth something. He should get decent run support, making Leake a streaming candidate for mixed leagues, especially at home. In AL-only, he's a nice complement to a high-strikeout but potentially risky starter.
Coming off back-to-back seasons with a 3.70 ERA, Leake struggled en route to his first losing season since 2014. Fueling the fire was an uncharacteristically poor showing against right-handed hitters. After holding them to a batting average below .265 for three straight years, his luck ran out and they put up a .304 average and .752 OPS against him in 2016. Meanwhile, he continued freely allowing home runs. In all seven of his seasons, he's allowed at least 0.97 per nine. A slight rebound isn't out of the question, and at his best, Leake can gobble up plenty of innings with a passable WHIP, but he continues to work with a low strikeout rate (16.2 percent for his career), which limits his value in most mixed formats.
Leake's skill set is pretty firmly established: he is a groundball control pitcher with modest strikeout rates and a bit of a homer issue. His ERA vacillates based on hit and home run suppression, which is how he was able to have his best (3.37) and worst (4.58) ERAs a year apart with virtually identical strikeout, walk, and groundball rates in those two seasons. The strikeout deficiency - even in this strikeout-happy era, he has never topped 7.0 K/9 - puts a firm cap on his fantasy potential as a back-end starter if you have rigid roster management rules. If you can curate his season to include only the pitcher-friendly ballparks, he becomes more valuable. His work in parks with an above-average home park factor for pitchers includes a 2.70 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 283 innings thanks in large part to a 0.73 HR/9. Be careful, even after he cashed in with an $80 million five-year deal with the Cardinals in free agency.
Projection systems typically suggest that Leake overperforms his component stats, usually because he's a groundball pitcher (53.4% of batted balls against Leake in 2014 were on the ground) with a good defense behind him. However, Leake genuinely improved in 2014, raising his strikeout percentage from 15.2% to 18.2%, while retaining low walk and HR rates. While he'll never be a great source of strikeouts, if he can maintain a semblance of his 2014 strikeouts, solid results should follow. As is the case with ace Johnny Cueto, Leake is eligible to become a free agent after the 2015 season.
Despite multiple calls for manager Dusty Baker to pull Leake from the rotation, Baker persisted and kept Leake in there and was rewarded with a solid bounce back season, as Leake posted a 3.37 ERA and 1.25 WHIP while making 31 starts. However, there are some warning signs for those looking to invest for 2014. Leake is a pitch-to-contact hurler, cut out of the Bronson Arroyo mold. His strikeout rate remained perilously low (15.2%) and he struggled down the stretch with an extended workload, posting a 4.39 ERA and 1.46 WHIP over the last 60 days. Because he's well below league-average for a fantasy starting pitcher in strikeouts, Leake relies on the team context to provide value, and chances are the Reds will decline a little from the last two years, so he may not match the 14 wins he netted in 2013.
Leake has become a poor man's Bronson Arroyo on the mound, striking out just 5.8 K/9 last year while allowing 1.3 HR/9. By the time September rolled around, it was clear that Homer Bailey's spot in the rotation was secure for the playoffs and that Leake was the fifth starter and thus the odd man out in the playoffs. Johnny Cueto's ill-timed oblique injury pressed Leake into service and he was woefully inadequate against the Giants. The 2013 season presents a big challenge to Leake in saving his rotation spot, as prospects Anthony Cingrani and Daniel Corcino are knocking at the door. At least Leake can hit, though the value of that skill is diminished considerably if he's working out of the bullpen.
After an embarrassing shoplifting incident and a brief demotion in May, Leake once again outperformed expectations (and his component numbers) before getting shut down in mid-September. He's still not a dominant starter (6.33 K/9IP), but he has excellent control and ended up with modest improvements in his component numbers. He's unlikely to ever become an ace, but he could maintain a reasonable career as a third or fourth starter. When looking at his numbers, keep in mind that he has just two minor league appearances in his professional career.
Leake helped keep the Reds afloat early in the season when they were scuffling with Aaron Harang's slow start, but he declined sharply in the second half with a 6.91 ERA after the All-Star break. His drop-off can in part be attributed to fatigue, having never pitched as many innings as he did in his rookie season after bypassing the minors, and in part because he was overachieving to begin with - his xFIP ERA for April and May was nearly two runs higher than his actual ERA, and he faced only two above-average NL offenses in that stretch. Leake will have to earn his spot in the rotation in spring training, following the emergence of Travis Wood last season. He might very well begin 2011 in Triple-A Louisville.
The Reds drafted Leake with the eighth pick in the 2009 draft, with the expectation that he'll advance fairly rapidly. Leake sits between 88-92 mph with his fastball, but he has a complete four-pitch arsenal that also includes a curveball, slider and changeup. Further, he commands his pitches well and didn't show any hesitation to throw any of his pitches regardless of the count during a very successful collegiate career at Arizona State. His ceiling isn't as high as others in this draft class, but he'll ultimately profile as a No. 3 starter type. Look for him to debut in 2011.
More Fantasy News
Expected to be ready
PArizona Diamondbacks
June 25, 2020
Leake (wrist) is expected to be ready to pitch when MLB resumes its season, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Throws five innings
PArizona Diamondbacks
Wrist
March 11, 2020
Leake (wrist) threw five innings in a "B" game Tuesday, Richard Morin and Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic report.
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Another game on tap
PArizona Diamondbacks
Wrist
March 8, 2020
Leake (wrist) will throw in an intrasquad game Tuesday, Richard Morin of the Arizona Republic reports.
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Throws sim game
PArizona Diamondbacks
Wrist
March 6, 2020
Leake (wrist) threw 68 pitches over four innings in a simulated game Thursday, Daniel Kramer of MLB.com reports.
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Live BP looms
PArizona Diamondbacks
Wrist
March 1, 2020
Leake (wrist) is scheduled to throw live batting practice Thursday, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports.
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